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VIDEO: The man who changed the world - Steve Jobs

Tributes today poured in from world and technology leaders for Apple co-founder and former chief executive Steve Jobs who died at the age of 56.

The pioneering businessman, who was the mind behind the iPhone and iPad, had been battling pancreatic cancer.

He stepped down from his post as Apple's chief executive in August saying he could no longer handle the job due to his illness.

Mr Jobs, who lived in Silicone Valley, California, died yesterday surrounded by his family.

An Apple spokesman said: "Steve's brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.

"His greatest love was for his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts."

A statement released by his family added: "Steve died peacefully surrounded by his family. In his public life, Steve was known as a visionary; in his private life, he cherished his family. We are thankful to the many people who have shared their wishes and prayers during the last year of Steve's illness. We know many of you will mourn with us."

US President Barack Obama (above) hailed Mr Jobs as one of America's greatest innovators and said the world had lost a visionary. Mr Jobs was "brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it", he said.

He added: "By building one of the planet's most successful companies from his garage, he exemplified the spirit of American ingenuity. By making computers personal and putting the internet in our pockets, he made the information revolution not only accessible, but intuitive and fun.

"And by turning his talents to storytelling, he has brought joy to millions of children and grown-ups."

The father-of-four started Apple with high school friend Steve Wozniak in his garage in 1976 but was forced out a decade later. He returned in the mid-1990s and transformed Apple into one of the world's most powerful companies.

Just two months ago the frail-looking businessman resigned as the company's CEO due to his health, but said he would continue to play a leadership role.

He was replaced by Apple's chief operating officer, Tim Cook, and took the role of chairman of the company's board.

Mr Jobs, described by many as an industry oracle, survived pancreatic cancer in 2004 before receiving a liver transplant in 2009. He had taken three spells of leave over the years, with the most recent spell in January.

Bill Gates, the founder of rival technology company Microsoft and friend of Mr Jobs, said he would miss him "immensely".

"The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come," he added.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page: "Steve, thank you for being a mentor and a friend. Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world. I will miss you."

hnews@herald.ie